Blue Star Mothers invite community to help pack boxes for soldiers

BERRIEN COUNTY — The Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177 are hoping to spread a little holiday cheer to those who serve their country.

For the past couple of weeks, the organization has been collecting items at donation sites across Berrien County to put in care packages for soldiers. Now, the organization needs help packing the boxes.

Volunteers are invited to lend a hand during an open house event which will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Stevensville American Legion Post, 3093 Johnson Road. Food and refreshments will be available during the event. A patriotic program will also take place as boxes are packed.

Those who volunteer to pack the boxes are also welcome to bring their own care package items to contribute. The Blue Star Mothers will be loading the packages with Christmas stockings, hygiene items, non-perishable food, playing cards, calendars, pads of paper and Christmas cards created by children at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School. People are also welcome to contribute monetary donations, which will help to cover the cost of sending the boxes.

Gyl Bateman, of Berrien Springs, has been helping to organize the event for a number of years. This year will mark the 16th that the organization has sent holiday care packages to soldiers. The Blue Star Mothers are typically able to send out between 100 to 150 boxes.

“The goal is to send as many packages as we can to the soldiers abroad and some to stateside,” Bateman said. “They are pretty good-sized boxes.”

While the packages contain some simple gifts, Bateman said she knows first-hand just how much they mean to those who serve. Bateman’s son, Bradley, is a military veteran who served in Iraq in 2003. Bradley was the recipient of care packages from the Blue Star Mothers during his time in the service.

“[It meant] a lot,” Bateman said.

She said she knows it means a lot to today’s soldiers, too, particularly when they see the homemade Christmas cards.

“The fact that some child has used their creativity to create a card is pretty precious,” Bateman said.

As for the food, it gives soldiers a break from the pre-packaged Meals Ready to Eat.

“They are kind of like comfort foods, cans of soup. A lot of them get tired of the meals the Army provides or the MREs,” Bateman said.

Bateman encouraged people to attend.

“It’s just fun to give,” Bateman said.

Those who cannot participate in the packing but who wish to contribute can drop off donation items or monetary contributions at Bradley’s store: Flow and Grow, 214 N. Second St. in Niles.

Some of the items being collected include:

• Non-perishable foods, such Chicken and tuna pouches, cans of soup

• Powder drink mixes

• Candy

• Personal hygiene items

• Games

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